Just in time for the holiday season, we can break out into carols of “Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory.” Nashville has a new Tea Party group led by Ben Cunningham, an anti-tax advocate who has been associated with the movement since 2009. According to Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, “Ben is a very conservative grassroots leader ... [who] will always be on the right side for liberty.”
But before we thank our lucky stars and raise songs of effusive praise to the skies, perhaps we should take a step back to consider the big picture. While we would all like to reduce the taxes we pay, most of us realize that taxes are necessary, and if we “put on our thinking caps” we can see that a vote for a Tea Party candidate (i.e., a conservative Republican) will affect much more than just our individual taxes.
In my opinion, a vote for a Tea Party candidate in any election is also a vote for:
(1) Social injustice, because here in Tennessee and all around the nation, Republicans are actively legislating against unions, teachers (which means students too), legal immigrants (via racial profiling), Muslims, homosexuals, the elderly, the sick, the poor, the unemployed, and just about anyone else who doesn’t look, feel and smell like a white conservative. After professing to “believe the Bible,” hypocritical American Pharisees (euphemistically called Republicans) completely ignore the teachings of Jesus, the apostles and the Hebrew prophets, who all spoke of the need for the people “with” to demonstrate compassion and establish social justice for the people “without.” The current crop of Republican presidential candidates is much closer to the pre-repentance Ebenezer Scrooge than to Jesus, who had compassion on the sick and the poor.
(2) Economic injustice, with the richest 1 percent of taxpayers keeping their Bush-era tax cuts, while the poor- and middle-income classes shoulder more and more of the burden. The reason is simple: the rich save most of what they earn, and can stuff their money into stock, bonds and art, never paying a penny in taxes on the appreciation of their holdings as long as the investments are not sold. Of course other Americans spend most of what they make, paying much more than their effective federal tax rates, due to a variety of sales, property, gasoline and other taxes. As a result, the rich get richer while everyone else gets poorer, thanks to the GOP’s “trickle down” economics. Democrats have been lobbying for a more equitable system, but Republicans strongly and stridently insist on protecting the wolves from the lambs.
(3) The ultimate injustice, war. Republicans protect their rich patrons from making economic sacrifices they would hardly feel, while expecting millions of children from lower- and middle-income classes to make the ultimate sacrifices: their health, mental well-being, and all too often, their lives. Barack Obama and the majority of House Democrats voted against the invasion of Iraq, while House Republicans voted almost unanimously in favor of it. Obviously voting for Republicans who have lost their senses, including those of compassion, justice and plain human decency, can be very, very expensive.
So before you vote for a Tea Party candidate in the rush to save a little money on taxes, please think about the party you’re voting for, and its true beliefs and goals. How many lives would have been saved, and how many trillions of dollars, if Americans had voted for their own best interests, over those of the super-rich and their political allies who crave military power, global influence and control of Middle Eastern oil fields? Are those things ordinary Americans are willing to pay for with their children’s lives?
If we put two and two together, it adds up to “vote for Democrats until Republicans regain their senses.” I say this as a Reagan Republican who changed sides when I saw and understood the handwriting on the wall.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.